Tory ministers to fight for ‘every single vote’ in Sunak’s by-election test

Tory ministers have admitted they are fighting “for every single vote” in a fresh by-election test for Rishi Sunak.

Voters in Wellingborough voted to oust disgraced MP Peter Bone after being accused of bullying and sexual misconduct in 2012 and 2013.

And bookmakers have claimed Labour are strong favourites to overturn the Conservatives 18,000 majority in the seat.

Such a result would be a hammer blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he prepared to call a General Election next year.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said it would be “very foolhardy” to predict the result now but stressed: “We’re going to fight for every single vote.”

“Yes we have a fair bit of ground to make up but there is no strong burning passion for Keir Starmer or another Labour government,” he told Times Radio.

“I accept that we are quite a long way behind in the polls,” he added, while insisting that Labour’s lead of nearly 20 points was “very wide but very thin”.

Labour claimed voters are ready for change.

Mr Bone. who could stand as an independent MP, said the the recall petition “came about as a result of an inquiry into alleged bullying and misconduct towards an ex-employee which was alleged to have occurred more than 10 years ago”.

“These allegations are totally untrue and without foundation.”

He said 68,897 people “chose not to sign the petition which represents 86.8per cent of the electorate”, adding: “I will have more to say on these matters in the new year.”

Labour Together’s Josh Williams added: “Wellingborough has a Tory majority of over 18,000 and overwhelmingly voted for Brexit. If Labour can win it will be a remarkable victory.”

“But this is a big ‘if’. The 18 percent swing Labour would need is more than current national polling. Labour has overturned some enormous majorities of late.”

“But even a sizeable swing towards Labour that ends in the Tories scraping through will be yet more evidence that the country is ready for a change.”

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